Free transit rides on tap for Election Day

Metro Transit bus
A Metro Transit bus waits outside of Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters on Monday, Aug 27, 2012. The district is shifting students to Metro Transit buses and trains and away from the traditional yellow school bus.
Tim Post / MPR News 2012

Voters across the state will be able to ride transit for free this Election Day. The free rides are the result of a law passed earlier this year that's designed to increase voter participation.

In the Twin Cities, Metro Transit will offer free rides from the start to the end of their service day on buses, light rail lines and the Northstar Commuter Rail line. However, Transit Link and Metro Mobility are not included.

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"It's a program that doesn't require you to have any manner of pass or voter ID, it's just a matter of getting on a bus or train," Metro Transit spokesperson Drew Kerr said.

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The state Legislature awarded the Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, $144,000 to offset the costs of free rides.

Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-59B, originally proposed the law last session. He said the cost of the program seemed slight compared to the possible advantage.

"If someone doesn't have a way to the polls, and they can't afford to take a cab, or they don't have family close by to give them a ride, we want to be sure to give them the opportunity to vote," Dehn said. "We should make sure that every citizen that's of the age to vote in Minnesota should be out there voting."

The faith-based group ISAIAH works to increase voter turnout. Organizer Matt Gladue said the new law might help people in a rush with work and children to get to the polls before they close.

"Any law that removes the substantial barriers people face to getting to the polls on Election Day is a good law," Gladue said. "If it allows one, a hundred or a thousand people to get to the polls who wouldn't be able to do it, it's a good thing."

The free rides will also be available on suburban and outstate bus lines including in Mankato, St. Cloud and Duluth, among others.

The Minnesota Secretary of State's website has a list of all the transit services providing free rides on election day.